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Everything posted by Smurf1976

  1. The BBC may have said it, but those with real knowledge certainly weren't. The message has been consistent for quite some time now. Discovery is going down and is below the rate of (rising) production. And no amount of increased drilling was able to arrest the decline in the US or other regions that have already peaked. Most models have long put the date of peak at sometime around the year 2000. In the context of the overall history of civilisation, 20 years either side of that will have been a fairly decent prediction. Peak for conventional oil is 2005 thus far...
  2. Even if this was immediately developed with the best technology and pumped at maximum rate, it would add no more than 3 million barrels per day to world production. And that's the absolute best case. Let's see... 85 million barrels per day demand rising at around 2 mmbpd per year. This buys us 18 months at the absolute most. And the field wouldn't possibly maintain that production rate for more than a few years at most before deline set in. Rather than delaying peak oil, the reality that it has taken so long to find this and that 18 billion barrels does so little to help is confirmation of just how serious the situation is. We don't need another 18 billion barrels that takes years to find and even longer to develop. We need an entire new Saudi Arabia, Russia or USA oil industry in less than that time if supply is going to keep up. As for the rate of drilling, it's outright nonsense to say it's down. Practically every rig in the world is running flat out and the cost of hiring one has gone through the roof. That they aren't finding much is the very situation that has many concerned about oil.
  3. IMO a stock market correction is what they're waiting for in order to justify the next round of inflation. Credit markets, housing (US) and stocks. Needs all 3 to be hit and then it's inflate, inflate and inflate some more IMO.
  4. If you want to reduce flooding downstream in a river system then under normal circumstances the only option you have is to hold back the water upstream. There are plenty of examples of land areas protected and actual floods avoided by the use of this principle. Amongst others, Brisbane (Oz) has a very large dam upstream on the Brisbane River which is never filled to more than 50% full. Why? So they can use the other 50% of its capacity to hold flood water back should the need arise and then release it slowly over a few days or weeks, thus avoiding flooding of the city downstream. Plenty of other places do much the same and the principle works just as well in London as anywhere else.
  5. Simply because at $1 the supply doesn't match demand. Not enough oil can be produced at that price to supply the massive consumption that would occur at that price. Oil is roughly 40% of world energy. It would be damn close to 100% at $1 a barrel and odds are total energy use would be at least double what it is today. So 400 million barrels per day instead of 85 million - you won't find that at $1. So, in short, the present price is just the point where supply and demand balance in terms of physical quantity (ignoring the impact of speculation). Same with most other things.
  6. It's not just in the UK. Much the same in Australia and no doubt elsewhere too. Where I live (Hobart, Oz) we had a pretty major battle to maintain any sort of late night activity at all. 18 months ago it looked pretty certain that nightclubs in particular would completely cease to exist here. Thankfully a bit more sense has prevailed since then and the overall capcity has increased from it's bottom. The ultimate cause of all this fuss? Someone built a group of thin walled shoe boxes on commercially zoned land literally directly opposite the entry to the largest club in the city, which had operated as a hotel or club for decades. Then they complained about noise, drunks etc. That club is still empty to this day apart from the still operating bottle shop out the back. The great tragedy of the whole property saga is that it threatens to get rid of pretty much everything that isn't a flat or house. A situation which somewhat defeats the purpose of, well, living... In Sydney they nearly closed Luna Park due to whinging from the residents of newly built housing nearby. Hmm... Luna Park is right by the water on Sydney Harbour so that housing isn't going to be cheap. And the park's been there for decades. Better get rid of it, stop the kids having fun etc in honour of the allmighty flat building gods. :angry:
  7. Neither of them are real alternatives though. LPG - Liquified PETROLEUM Gas. The clue's in the middle word there - petroleum. As for biodiesel, sure it works but where to get enough feedstock from? The annual food requirements of a human is enough to fill a car's tank - once. Given that most people buy fuel more than once a year, we're talking about a truly massive expansion in agriculture to the point where human food ends up being a trivial sideline to fuel. Where would we plant it all?
  8. A major hotel near me (in Oz) was selling most (all?) of their rooms this way a year or so ago. They had a truly massive marketing campaign especially on radio - the ads went on for months. 1. They were pretty keen to sell given their advertising effort. 2. Obviously no major investor wanted to buy the whole lot - had to sell to the public. 1 + 2 = Smart money and hotel management doesn't want to own hotel rooms. Hmm...
  9. Is that term not in common use in the UK? Along with "all gas" it's not an unheard of term in Oz. Basically means electric cooking, heating and hot water. So no wood/coal fire, oil or gas in this house. I'm a bit surprised at the "all electric" bit attracting attention. It's pretty normal to state the type of heating (ie electric, heat pump, gas, oil, wood) installed in the colder states of Oz so I assumed it was the same elsewhere. Apparently not...
  10. Had that April Fools joke here about 20 years ago when a local radio announcer did it. It even came to the point of someone building a working 10 hour clock and presenting it to him a few days later.
  11. For the central banks and governments - Oops! I Did It Again (Britney Spears) For the BTL mob - Livin' On A Prayer (Bon Jovi) After the crash - Dry County (Bon Jovi) "...now the oil's gone, and the money's gone, all the jobs are gone..." For all the Iraq / war threds on HPC - Gods of War (Def Leppard) - chilling words that show we've learned nothing since the 1980's when this was recorded. For those who can't pay the mortgage - Get Out Of The House (Boom Crash Opera)
  12. Another sign of peak oil/gas and the reality that few countries will actually reduce CO2 emissions no matter what they say or sign.
  13. I don't recall seeing any debate, especially not a political one (which climate change is) where either side told the absolute truth. The truth always turns out to be somewhere between the two extremes. So odds are climate change is real but it's not as serious, at least not the man-made component, as many claim. In that case we need to do something about it but not to the point of shutting down industry and literally turning out the lights untill we have alternative power sources available. It would be sensible to just cut outright waste (like office buldings lit up all night for no reason) and progress developing the alternatives at a gradual pace that doesn't wreck the economy in the process. The next few years should be interesting. Australia is having a very serious drought at the moment which has all but emptied many key water storages. The Snowy Mountains scheme (irrigation and hydro-electricity) is down to less than 10%. Brisbane's water supply is down to 20% full and serious water restrictions are in force. Likewise practically every other water storage supplying the major cities, agriculture or hydro-electricity is low. It's to the point where even filling buckets is limited to two days per week, and then only at certain times, in some parts of the country. And we're being told that the drought is most certainly due to climate change. No iffs or buts, it MUST be climate change that has caused it. Never mind the well understood El Nino phenomenon that historially brings serious drought to Australia and that a lack of new dams and over allocation of irrigation water (the total take from the Murray river being well over 100% of its total flow - of course the dams were going to be drained at some point) has compunded the water supply problem compared with previous droughts. Now, if it starts raining normally in the next few years then it's egg on the faces of the "it's certainly climate change" people BIG TIME and they'll lose a lot of credibility. Never mind the science (which would never support such "certain" claims), they've put it all on the line to try and force prompt reductions in CO2 emissions. If it goes wrong, if the drought breaks, then they're arguement goes down the river along with the water. If it doesn't rain now that the El Nino has ended, then we'll probably see some serious action on climate change in Australia due to the politics of it all. It's make or break time for climate change here.
  14. I live in a place where children at the age of 10 were found to have significant lung damage thought to be caused by breathing polluted air. That pollution came not from industry but from household wood burning heaters (the slow combustion kind) which choof out the tar and other nasties 24/7. Why were we burning wood when everyone knew that air quality standards were being massively breached at 3 times the "safe" level? Because the greens stopped the building of a hydro-electric dam, power from which was intended largely for domestic heating after oil became too expensive in the 1970's. The greens wanted wood instead and they got their way. Enough said there... Thankfully, most have gone electric for heating in the past few years once the utility found a way to increase supply. Unfortunately it's coal and gas they're using to do it but it beats breathing smog 2 days in 3. Greens seem more concerned about stopping any kind of development than about genuine sustainability (let's face it, hydro-electricity is sustainable in ongoing operation even if it does alter the environment during construction). And they the went on to promote tourism (which necessarily means aviation in this case) as an economic alternative to heavy industry using more electricity. Needless to say I'm more than suspicious as to the real motives for climate change being such a high profile issue. I very much doubt it's any real concern for sustainability. More likely it's the only way they can think of to get nuclear plants built and justify restrictions on car use. Never admit the truth about peak oil and gas and the West losing control of remaining reserves...
  15. Get the energy saving globes marked "warm white" or "3000K" if you want light output similar to an ordinary bulb. "White" or "4000K" is the bright white office type fluorescent light. Good for your study etc but not for the lounge or dining room. "Daylight" or "6000K" is the cold bluish lighting used in some commercial premises etc. You generally wouldn't want these at home although they are very commonly sold for household use. They are good for use in workshops etc however. Ordinary fluorescent tubes also come in these different types. Get the right ones and you'll find the light output more acceptable. There are also 3500K, 5000K and various others which sit between the above types in terms of the light they produce. You can get 10,000K for acquarium use for example.
  16. Cost is a measure of the human labour required and it simply isn't practical to get to the point where it requires, say, 50% of all human effort to keep up the fossil fuel extraction rate. That is the problem. Fossil fuels are useful on a large scale ONLY because they are easy to get at. Most of the energy we use is ultimately because it requires less human effort to apply fossil fuels (or nuclear or hydro power) to the task than to do it with muscle power. But if a declining quality of remaining fossil fuel resource means that we need 10 or 100 times the effort to produce the same barrel of oil, and that is exactly the trend we are on so far, then a point comes where it just isn't worth continuing to use it for many of the applications we use it for at present. That is precisely what lead to the UK coal peak nearly a century ago and is what ultimately results in the oil peak. Technically, we could have a million drilling rigs and that would keep production up for longer. But it just isn't worthwhile to be expending so much effort on the fuel supply. Taken to the extreme, it ends up with humans doing nothing more than extracting and burning fossil fuels whilst getting nothing else done. A pointless effort. Oil is valuable in most uses only because it comes with minimal effort. The inherent problem with alternative energy sources devised thus far is that, except in a few special circumstances, they require more effort than the fuels we are used to using. As such we will never use them as freely as we have used oil and gas no matter how technically viable it may be. It just won't be worth ramping up the level of human effort expended on fuel supply in order to maintain the most marginal energy uses. Consider what happens at home if the power goes out. You might have a torch and a radio running off batteries. But there's no way you're going to use D cell batteries to run a plasma TV and some decorative lamp sitting on the table. It's technically viable for sure (though you will need a LOT of D cells) but you just aren't going to spend $500 on batteries to keep the TV displaying advertisements for a couple of hours. Virtually all the electricity you use is used only because it is reasonably cheap, a point well understood by the industry. This is a lot more complex than simply saying we'll shift from oil to something else. Sure, we'll use other energy sources but not on the same scale we use oil and gas today. We just aren't likely to divert so much human effort into a single activity.
  17. In 1995 I remember quite well taking the following photos and taking all the films in to be developed at the same time. I never gave it a thought that anyone would question it, indeed the taxi driver who took me around some of these places thought it perfectly reasonable to be taking photos and even pointed out the best locations since it wasn't the first time he'd been on a trip of this nature. Where did I photograph? All of these are in Victoria (Oz). 1. Flinders St station, the main commuter railway station in Melbourne 2. Rialto Towers, the tallest building in Melbourne. 3. The city skyline 4. Newport power station (suburban Melbourne) 5. Altona oil refinery, the largest oil refinery in Australia. 6. Loy Yang A, Loy Yang B, Hazelwood, Yallourn and Morwell power stations and their associated coal mines, conveyor systems, switchyards etc. This included photos inside the Hazelwood plant - turbine hall, boilers and even the control room as well as very close up detailed photos of the Morwell plant. All of these are within 25km (about 15 miles) of each other and generate 90% of the state's electricity. 7. Jeeralang gas-fired power station (very near the Hazelwood plant). Now, as I said I took all these photos in at once to be developed and never thought twice about it. My reason for taking the photos was simply my long association with the power industry but I didn't "need" them as such. The staff at Hazelwood knew exactly what I was doing and had no concerns whatsoever except to point out where the best outlook of the mine with the power station in the background was. So I effectively photographed 97% of the state's electricity supply as it was at the time. Nobody asked why I was taking the photos and I hadn't even thought of it causing concern. Fast forward to 2007 and I'd be seriously worried about taking any of these photos except perhaps the entrance to the railway station since that is a common photo taken by tourists. And there's no way I'd feel comfortable taking in that lot to be developed all at once, especially not the power plants. I doubt the staff at Hazelwood would even be allowed by government to let non-employees anywhere near the place today, let alone have them taking lots of photos all over the plant. We're definately less free than we were in 1995 IMO. In fact tourists in Melbourne aren't even allowed to take cameras to Southbank now. Southbank being the location of a major casino and also the best spot within walking distance of the city to take photos of the city skyline etc.
  18. The fishing sounds a bit like what happens at Hazelwood coal-fired plant in Oz. It's got the biggest heated swimming pool (acutally a lake) you'll find anywhere. Cold water is taken out and replaced with hot water 24/7 and has been for the past 4 decades. Only problem is the heat encourages the growth of algae in the lake which has been a problem for swimming etc at times.
  19. Strongly agreed about transport versus household use and the future being with centralised rather than distributed generation. As for trains, running lots of trains all the time will still use lots of energy. It's just that it won't be oil that's being used. So it's only a solution if the electricity isn't from oil or gas. Another problem in many parts of the world is that people don't actually want to traven into the city centre but across it. Say from the NW to the NE without going anywhere near the centre. If they all have to travel into the centre and then back out again to get where they're going then the energy use starts to become rather large, possibly worse than single occupant cars. The bus company where I am has done the maths and worked out that if they took all the buses off the roads and everyone travelled in single occupant cars it would actually use less fuel than continuing to run buses. Obviously that isn't practical as not everyone has a car or can drive (especially children and the elderly) but it does explode the myth about public transport being a solution to cutting energy use. Obviously some individual bus services are net fuel savers but the losing ones offset this completely. In Melbourne (Oz) a similar study found that trams are using far more energy than if they were replaced with cars. Why? because buses and trams don't go directly from A to B. You may be using less fuel per mile per person on the bus, but you end up travelling a lot more miles, quite a bit of that with few if any on board during the return trip during peak commuter times. Cars don't normally have those losses which at least partly makes up for their inefficiencies.
  20. 1. Certainly we can store energy and certainly pumped storage is at present the most practical means of effectively storing electricity. But it doesn't work on a global scale - we can't ship electricity across the world using pumped storage (or anything else at the present time). But we can NOT store electricity itself in large quantities at the present time, only some other energy source (such as water or hydrogen) that is used to produce it. Try running an aeroplane or anything else not directly tied to the grid on pumped storage - it just does not work and will not work without some practical means of storing electricity that is portable and reasonably light weight. That oil provides a lightweight, easily contained and portable energy source has always been it's primary attraction as a fuel for vehicles, planes etc. 2. I challenge you to explain to me how we'll connect the whole world with an ELECTRICITY grid. Gas maybe, but we're not going to be relying on gas for a great deal of our energy in the long term. Wind, solar etc produce electricity not natural gas. Indeed practically every renewable energy source has as it's product electricity and nothing else. If it were simple to connect the whole world to a single grid then wind would be the absolute answer to 100% of energy needs since it's always blowing somewhere. Likewise we could get 60% of all electricity worldwide from hydro if we could actually find a means of running Europe from plants located in South America. Same with solar, tidal etc. There's plenty of them but we lack the means to connect the whole world together to deal with the situation when there's no wind in the UK (or anywhere else) but it's freezing cold and the power is needed. To fix the problem requires that we get to the point where we can run all of the US (for example) when the country is producing perhaps 10% of its consumption in the middle of the night when it's snowing and there's no sun and not much wind. Sure, the sun might be shining in Australia and that could easily generate enough power to run the entire US but we have no means to actually get that power from source to point of use. So the only option is either very large scale storage in each country, actually build a very high capacity global grid or stick with energy sources that aren't intermittent in their production. So far we've done the latter but that rules out most of the non-fossil or nuclear alternatives except hydro, geothermal and biofuels. It's worth noting that Australia has a "national" grid that covers only a relatively small part of the physical area of the country and doesn't include the city of Perth or for that matter any of Western Australia or the Northern Territory. The reason being that losses and would be just too high. If we can't send power efficiently from eastern Australia to the west then there's not much chance of sending it to the US or Europe. But we can easily ship coal, oil or uranium over those distances at an affordable cost.
  21. Agreed. But that is only a fairly small share of total oil demand and in any event it's a different issue in terms of replacement. No amount of nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, hydrogen or whatever is going to make plastics (though it can produce fertilizer and indeed this was done commercially on a large scale for 30 years only 20km from where I'm sitting right now). We'll need some other organic substance to replace oil for plastics etc - probably biomass or coal (at least until we run out of coal...). But we should have 50 years or so before oil production drops so low that we don't have enough for plastic. (Unless someone blows up the Middle East...).
  22. I can't see a global electric grid any time soon but the same principle already works with the reasonably large grids we have now. One plant breaks down, somewhere has high demand etc and we move the electricity to suit. It also applies to integrated multi-catchment hydro systems not connected to other power sources. It rains so the plants with limited storage run flat out as the bigger dams store water. Reverse when it doesn't rain. Likewise to cope with breakdowns etc. So the principle is valid, question is whether it will work sufficiently well in this application. If we had a truly global grid then even wind and solar could be considered as a constant power source since they shouldn't fluctuate too much on a global scale. Somewhere right now the sun is shining. Somwhere else it is blowing a strong wind. Somewhere else it is raining. The planet has plenty of sun, wind etc but the problem we have is that (1) we can't store large amounts of electricty and (2) we can't move large volumes of electricity around the world. Fix either of those and the intermittent power sources become a total solution to global energy needs. One thing that I think will be quite valuable is hydro-electricity with large storage capacity. It can stay turned off most of the time (letting the dam fill up) and then release a huge amount of power when other supplies fall short. It is by no means a solution to the overall energy problem but the storage and immediate availability of virtually 100% reliable power does help a lot if the other power sources are of an intermittent nature (which is the inherent problem with renewables). Giant flywheels might eventually have an application here too.
  23. Seems a reasonable estimate to replace oil. But if you consider that the end use of oil in petrol engines is only 15% or so efficient (considering idling losses etc) and double that for diesel versus 50% or so for the end use via fuel cells and electric motors then we only need to replace half the oil used for transport. Presumably we wouldn't need to replace any of the oil used for heat or electricity (though they are a minority of total use) as we'd be using renewable / nuclear / coal with CO2 capture for electricity generation and using some of that electricity to provide the heating etc presently provided by oil. Add in some efficiency gains through smaller vehicles etc and we probably only need to replace one third of the actual oil we use now. So the area needed doesn't seem totally out of the question for PRESENT oil consumption. Only real problem is demand growth would in due course require the whole planet but that applies equally to practically all resources on earth. Keep increasing consumption at a few % each year and no amount of supply will be enough. So ending the notion of constant growth becomes a necessity - but at least we won't have to have negative growth / collapse if we can replace something approaching present oil use in terms of the end-use energy it provides.
  24. If you have hydrogen gas as a primary energy source and use that to generate electricity via a fuel cell then that seems quite reasonable. Hydrogen gas in = electricity and waste heat out. But what you wouldn't generally want to do, other than as a means of storage (especially for vehicles) is to generate electricity (by whatever means), convert that electricity into hydrogen and then convert that hydrogen back into electricity. There would be too many losses there and it would be easier to just distribute the electricity. Realistically, I think we won't have a reticulated gas system of any sort in 100 years time. The power grid will be the only universal "energy network" to which most things are connected either directly (buildings) or indirectly (vehicles running on either hydrogen or batteries). It's quite possible we'll still have service stations for cars but they will simply be water and electricity in = hydrogen out rather than distributing the hydrogen in tankers etc which is technically problematic. I'm not sure if it is still going ahead but the electricity generation company here (Tasmania, Oz) did have a plan to set up two hydrogen fuelling stations which were bascially conventional looking service stations and then put some test vehicles (their own fleet) on the road. They're already involved with research into dual fuel diesel / hydrogen engines (not sure but I think they're at the patent stage?) which solves the initial lack of refuelling infrastructure problem. Their business model is basically to produce the hydrogen onsite using wind power transmitted through the existing grid. The idea being a storage tank for the hydrogen onsite and remote control of the input power thus matching hydrogen production to wind energy availability. (Though they aren't too worried about this aspect for the trial since they are in practice just taking power from the grid for the trial and not linking directly to the production of any individual power station / wind farm).
  25. Regarding the idea of piping hydrogen gas around instead of electricity, it would be pure madness. Conventional power transmission and distribution results in total losses in the 5 - 10% range for most systems. The very nature of hydrogen is that it's hard to contain so pipeline losses alone would lose as much energy. And there's no realistic prospect of converting it back into electricity with more than 60% efficiency unless you're going to have a combined cycle fuel cell and steam turbine power plant that could theoretically approach 75 - 80% efficiency. But I seriously doubt we'll see combined cycle fuel cell / steam turbines in every house any time soon. And then there's the huge loss in turning electricity into hydrogen in the first place. Overall we're talking about 60%+ losses compared to one tenth of that to just distribute the electricity. It just doesn't stack up. However, we may see some use of hydrogen storage to fuel large power stations as a means of storing intermittent renewable energy. When the wind blows, sun shines etc we feed that power straight into the grid AND take some out to produce hydrogen which is stored. When the wind isn't blowing we then use that hydrogen to run a fairly conventional power station. Once we make the inevitable move to either renewables or hydrogen we'll have little choice but to use electricity for every application where it is practical. Cooking, heating, hot water in the home can all be done with electricity without problems (indeed it's exactly what practically everyone does where I live since we never actually had a major gas system or fossil fuel power generation - always been close to 100% hydro-electric). Likewise most industrial processes, trains etc all work perfectly well with electricity. The only reason we use natural gas or oil for cooking, industrial heat etc now is that it is more efficient than turning that heat into electricity and then turning the electricity back into heat. But if you're starting with electricity from wind, hydro, nuclear etc then it's far more efficient (and a lot cheaper) to just use it as electricity rather than converting it into something else (hydrogen) unless you really have to. The exception is, of course, things that move and can't be connected to the electricity grid. There it comes down to batteries versus hydrogen. Battery powered aircraft are highly unlikely (too heavy etc) but battery powered delivery vans etc for suburban use are quite practical. Get some better batteries (scaled up mobile phone batteries) and the issues of travelling range and charging time largely disappear. So, 100% electricity in the home seems near certain. It's already common in those parts of the world with abundant hydro-electricity and in due course anyone not using fossil fuels to generate their electricity comes into this category. Likewise 100% electricity for most industry and suburban public transport - trains in most cities already are electric and some cities have in the past run substantial electric bus fleets with only minor problems (though at a higher overall cost than diesel prior to peak oil). Which leaves the hydrogen for cars, motorbikes, aircraft etc. The latter is a big "if" however since many experts see practical problems with the space required to store enough hydrogen on a commercial aircraft. But if the overall efficiency can be raised high enough then it might work. Odds are aviation will be relatively more expensive than today however.
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